“Favorite Son” – VOY 3X20

Another entry in the “Harry Kim Must Suffer” series of episodes. This time it’s not at the hands of scary clowns, space STDs, parallel universes or promotion-stingy Captain Janeway. This time, Harry Kim is imperilled by that most dangerous of foes: a society of sexy women!

Harry Kim at his station

We start out with Harry on the bridge experiencing deja vu to the point that he takes tactical control and fires on a newly encountered vessel without apparent provocation. Everyone else is hella taken aback.

By the way, when they say “acting is reacting,” this is what they mean:

Janeway looks at Harry with shock and anger

And my new favourite reaction shot:

Chakotay looks utterly disgusted

After the credits they’re engaged in a pretty serious firefight with the Nasari ship. The ship retreats, but not before a conduit blows up in B’Elanna’s face. 

Once the fight is over, Janeway orders Kim to sickbay, where B’Elanna’s being treated. Kim is wracked with guilt ,but Kes tells him not to sweat the small stuff, like intergalactic diplomatic crises and seriously injuring your friend and fellow crewmember.

Kim's mom appears in a dream

That night Harry dreams his mom is making him soup, then that his mom is Captain Janeway, suspending him from duty. This is one of those moments where Kim really feels like the Wesley Crusher of the ship – preternaturally gifted but nevertheless the baby of the ship, motivated by the need for approval of the adults around him.

Kim sees spots appear on his forehead

Harry goes to get checked out and B’Elanna wakes up. It’s a really cute scene as she decides she’s going to acquiesce to the Doctor’s orders to stay in sickbay another day, and then calls Harry “Spot,” saying he looks like a speckled targ.

B'Elanna lying under a blanket in sickbay

Kim goes to apologize to Janeway but she says he was right about the Nasari. And crap, three more Nasari ships are on their way.

Kim somehow knows which way to go to escape them – they arrive at a planet Harry knows is named Taresia. Another ship flies up and the Nasari leave.

Lyris on the viewscreen, a middle aged blond alien woman

They hail the new ship and the captain, Lyris, welcomes Kim home, saying he’s Taresian.

Kim surrounded by Taresian women

Back on the planet the Taresians – who seem to be nearly all women – stride up to Kim and start caressing and kissing him. Lyris says Taresians are conceived on the planet and born on other worlds, incorporating the DNA of their mothers on the other worlds.

Paris talks to another apparently Taresian man

As the women lead Kim away, still caressing him and offering him food and drink, Paris turns to the lone Taresian man, Taymon, and asks if this is the “standard welcome-home reception.”

“For males it is,” he says, “They’re very rare. Our population is ninety per cent female.” Paris goes from worried about his friend to horn dog in two seconds, saying, “Really.”

Kim stays behind while Voyager leaves him to go and try to repair diplomatic relations with the Nasari. Meanwhie, The Taresians inject Taymon and try to inject him with a mood enhancing drug. 

Oh noes! They are trying to corrupt our Harry!

Taymon brags about how he’s getting three wives. His soon-to-be first wife asks Kim what it’s called on Earth when “a man and a woman are joined.”

“It’s called marriage, but it’s usually one woman with one man,” Kim replies. Yes, gay marriage wasn’t legal anywhere when this episode came out but still, this couldn’t have been scripted any more inclusively? Like: “It’s usually just two people who love each other” or something? 

Eliann rubs Harry's shoulders

While Taymon pumps up Harry’s ego about how special he is, Eliann gives him a massage and offers to find him some less restrictive clothing. Yup, every man’s dream.

Taymon surrounded by women in veils

Taymon’s wedding is highly ritualized although only really made to seem creepy through the accompanying music. The women, in veils, walk in circles around him and paint his face and neck with red paint. They bang staffs on the floor. And then they blindfold him and tie his hands behind his back.

Kim: Why did they tie him like that?

Eliann: It’s tradition. It symbolises binding their lives together, no longer looking for anyone else. Do you find it exciting?

Kim: I guess I hadn’t really thought of it that way. 

“What?” Harry’s face says, “You mean sex?” in another scene that would’ve fit perfectly with Wesley Crusher in Season 1 TNG.

Kim tries to contact Voyager but Voyager doesn’t respond. Lyris distracts him with drinks and invites him to stay the night. 

The Doctor, Janeway and Chakotay discuss the problem

Back on Voyager we learn they are trying to contact the planet but can’t. And the Doctor finds out Harry isn’t actually a Taresian – he was infected with a retrovirus that changed his genes.

Eliann anoints Harry

Eliann shows Harry to his room, where he asks her to tuck him in. When she asks him to explain, he tells her that’s what human parents do. She anoints him with something and kisses him, then leaves him to sleep.

This episode is turning out more Freudian than “Phantasms” – you’ve got Harry having dreams about his disapproving mother, then being seduced by women whom he asks to mother him. It doesn’t stop there.

That night he dreams about Janeway telling him he’s special, then about his mom telling him, “You know where your real home is, Harry,” then about Eliann asking him to stay with her, then Rinna kissing him too.

He wakes up to Eliann and Rinna caressing him. 

Harry stands with Eliann and Rinna, Eliann touches a finger to his lips

They ask him to choose them and when he says no, they get angry, saying he has a responsibility to pass on his genes to the next generation. He pretends to succumb and ties Eliann to a chair, saying it could be exciting. When Rinna goes to untie her, he whacks her over the head with a vase. 

So Harry doesn’t for sure know at this point they’re evil, so he might have been able to find a more creative and non-violent way out. Basically, we know he’s justified, but he actually shouldn’t yet.

Harry ties up Eliann

He runs down the hall to Taymon’s room and when he opens the door he finds the women have literally sucked the life out of him.

Taymon's blindfolded, dessicated head

One of Taymon’s wives comes back and Harry grabs her and threatens her with, evidently, a sonic screwdriver.

Harry holds what looks like a sonic screwdriver to a woman's neck

Man, if only he’d used the sonic screwdriver to access a control panel and hail the ship we could be done this horrible episode by now.

She explains they needed a lot of genetic material for conception and not enough men are born on their world. She also tells him he’s not really Taresian.

Harry is surrounded

Harry runs but the women catch him and surround him with their staffs. Will Voyager break a hole to transport him out in time?

Harry is beamed out from the middle of the circle of women

Yes they will! But now the Taresians and Nasari are both there and Voyager’s caught in the middle. For like two seconds, but they distract each other and then Voyager gets through.

Oh no but the episode is not over. Nope, in case we didn’t get that this whole depiction of praying mantis-esque women out to seduce men and kill them is an old, tired trope, Harry Kim makes sure we know.

Harry in the mess hall

Kim: But Odysseus had been warned that these women, the Sirens, sang a song so beautiful that any man who heard it would be lured to his death. 
Neelix: So how did he get the ship past them? 
Kim: He told his crew to cover their ears so they couldn’t hear the Siren’s song. But he also had them tie him to the mast of the ship so he could listen himself without being led astray as they sailed past. 

Paris totally gets it – I mean how could any man maintain rational thought around hot ladies?

Paris: Anyone would have been drawn in by these Taresians. I have never seen so many beautiful women in my life. 

Harry argues, “It wasn’t just the women,” but Paris doesn’t buy it. Kim says he wishes he could be “more confident with women” like Tom, but Tom says actually he’s trying to be more like Kim – reliable and hardworking.

The end makes it seems like the episode was about Harry going outside his comfort zone and realizing it’s actually a good thing to be likeable and reliable, but most of the rest of the episode felt like it was about how men shouldn’t trust women, because chances are they’re trying to manipulate you for their own gain. 

There are aspects of various tropes at play in “Favorite Son,” including the “Literal Maneater”, the “Vamp” and the “Black Widow”, all of which caution men about women (or at least “certain kinds of women”).

Bechdel-Wallace Test: Pass. Kes and Torres talk in Sickbay. Janeway asks Lyris about the Nasari.

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